By SHEILA LASIBORI
MINING and exploration activities at the Simberi gold mine in New Ireland province have been suspended on health, safety and welfare issues.
Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) mines inspection branch temporarily closed the mine and issued a stop work order on Monday.
The order covers all Simberi Gold Co Ltd tenements on Simberi Island.
MRA said in a statement the order followed an inspection of the mine carried out by the Deputy Chief Inspector of Mines Lave Michael last Thursday during which serious threats to public safety, health and livelihood were identified after which the mine’s management had been notified.
“The stop work order will remain indefinitely until such time that Simberi Gold has adequately addressed the issues outlined in the order letter to the satisfaction of the inspectorate.”
It is understood that MRA had advised the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) to carry out inspection (environment) at Simberi last year, but to date DEC has not done this.
And about midday yesterday, the Simberi Mine Area Association (SMAA) publicly displayed customary “gorgor” and also placed barriers at certain facilities.
According to acting SMAA chairman Vincent Maris, the company was to cease mining ore, hauling, laboratory processing, export of products, and prospecting in mine lease (ML) 136 Simberi Island.
“The exceptions are company camp services and industrial services … these essential services for humanity reasons must continue,” he said, adding the company should not tamper with the “gorgor” and other barriers at certain facilities.
Meanwhile, the SMAA trust has claimed the Simberi management did not welcome the review into the memorandum of agreement (MoA) as it alleged that a certain senior officer (named) was beefing up security and was also to bring into the country private Bulgarian army to deal with SMAA.
SMAA community development facilitator Bernard Maris claimed the company has not made clear to MRA its development plans.
“SMAA has clearly conveyed to the company that it is not going to entertain any pre-MoA discussion in areas where the company does not have any plans for commitment,” he said.
It is understood SMAA and its trust will be writing to MRA on their claims against the company.
The mines inspectorate enforces and oversees compliance of health and safety standards in all mining operations in PNG under the Mining (Safety) Act and Regulation 1977.